As you may know, we have been praying to find a new church planter who will take care of the Lord’s sheep at Thinglei BP Mission. We still cannot find the right person. The real problem is not that we can’t find anyone at all; some people, that are willing, lack the right motives for the ministry. Should we be concerned with people’s motives when we consider them for the Lord’s service? I think the answer is absolutely “Yes” because God is concerned with our motives (1 Samuel 16:7).
Here are some the improper motives I find when I interview people for entering into the ministry. Some enter into the ministry in order to:
- Earn God’s forgiveness and acceptance. This means that they are trying to earn eternal salvation by works, which is contrary to the gospel message. We are saved by grace through faith alone, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 3: 1-9).
- Get blessings from God. They think that if they do good and work hard, then God will be good to them. They serve within the church in order to get blessings from God (Phil. 3:9).
- Impress or please others. Some serve because they want people to notice them (Matt. 23:5). They take positions of leadership and authority because they want others to know what an important role they play within the church (3 John 9). They often become frustrated and upset when they aren’t properly recognized or thanked by others for their service.
- Help God. Some people think that God needs their help and that without them, the church and its ministries would fall apart. They do not realize that God is quite capable of carrying out His will without us. God accomplishes things through us, but He isn’t dependent upon us (Act. 17:25). He uses us not because He needs us, rather, He graciously allows us to join in His ministry.
Therefore, it is important that we enter the ministry with the proper motives. Here are some legitimate biblical motivations. We are motivated to serve God because:
- We know that we are His servants (Rom. 6:22). He saved us so that we can serve Him (Rom 7:6). So, serving Him is our obligation (Luke 17:7-10) and as God’s faithful servants, we yearn to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant… ” (Matt. 25:23).
- We love Him (1 John 4:18), above all else. Our love for God constrains (2 Cor, 5:12-14) us to obey Him (John 14:21; 1John 5:2) and to please Him (Col. 1:10; 1 Thes. 4:1).
- Of God’s grace. This is another powerful motivating force for service because He graciously saved us (Eph. 2:8-9) and also calls us into the ministry of grace (1Tim.1:12). His grace motivates us to offer our bodies to Him (Rom. 12:1-2) and to live for Him (Gal. 2:20).
- We know that our service for Him is not vain (1 Cor. 15:58) but it will be rewarded (Gal. 6:9; Col. 3:23-24) both in this life (Mark 10:28-31) and in eternity (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12). God will reward us with treasures (Matt. 6:20) and crowns (1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Pet. 5:4; 2 Tim. 4:8) at the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:9-13).
- Of fear. Fear of God motivates us to serve Him with faithfulness, otherwise there will be shame (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 John 2:28) or loss of reward (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 9:27) at His coming.
As responsible leaders, we need wisdom from God to figure out the kind of motive people bring when they join the ministry; as a wise servant of God, we must evaluate our own motives in the ministry again and again; as a normal Christian, we must evaluate ourselves why we participate those activities in the church and in the community. Service without proper motives is not really service to God, but service to ourselves.
(Picture caption: The youth group helping the believers in Thinglei by carrying firewood for cooking.)